Rowe picks loo blue

September 2, 2021 BY

Risk: Councillors Owen Sharkey and Clayton Whitfield said safety was a priority when dealing with public toilets and barbecues in the pandemic era. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

ACS Property Services has been awarded the Shire’s public toilet and barbecue cleaning tender for the next three years, but not after some push back from one councillor.

The move came during last week’s council meeting and after municipal director of infrastructure and development Phil Josipovic said the Shire has the responsibility of cleaning and maintaining 28 public toilets and 23 public barbecue facilities.

Fifteen tender submissions were made, with one ineligible and while Mr Josipovic recommended ACS Property Services, but Cr Les Rowe spoke against the recommendation and suggested an alternative.

“As a councillor, I think we can get better value with another tenderer, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings over a five-year period,” he said.

“I have thoroughly read over a copy of the confidential tender evaluation report, provided to councillors at the briefing meeting and are happy with my findings. The previous tenderer… did a fantastic job with very few complaints.

“Using this information as a benchmark, alongside the scoring methodology in relation to capacity, capability, local content, price and best value… I would be failing my ratepayers and residents in supporting the recommendation.”

Cr Rowe said the funds saved could be spent on other projects within the Shire, where money is “hard to get, easy to spend.”

As part of his push Cr Rowe called out fellow councillors Clayton Whitfield, Brett Cunningham and Ian Getsom, who in 2020 campaigned on fascial municipal responsibility.

One of their slogans during the election period was “time to change.”

“I hope the new councillors who campaigned on ‘time for change’ give this [alternative] credit,” Cr Rowe said.

“I quote one councillor in his campaign material; ‘providing value for the ratepayers’ dollar.’ Another councillor saying…’ a united group that will work towards accountability.’

“Fellow councillors, the time for change has come. Put your thinking caps on and think hard on this topic, and put your money where your mouth is. Save this council a considerable amount of money with your actions.”

Cr Whitfield said the “high-profile” work is worth a lot less money than most tenders council sees, with $223,300 budgeted.

“But the works involved are some of the more high-profile. To choose another tender, other than the recommendation, comes with risk. There is a push by this councillor group to find savings where we can, and this tender does come in under budget,” he said.

“There are many factors that need to be accounted for… and we need to ensure a quality level of service and that is vital for the cleaning of public toilets and barbecues, particularly in a time of pandemic.

“We want to find savings and budget efficiency is important, but I think there will be many, many chances for us to do that going forward. I wouldn’t be inclined to think this is one of them. The panel do the hard yards… that’s why I find it hard to separate from the recommendation.”

Cr Owen Sharkey congratulated Cr Rowe on his assessment of this tender process, but still supported the recommendation.

“I’m going to steal two words from Cr Whitfield. One is ‘risk.’ Whilst I personally debated looking at other tenderers, that exposes us… to risk as individuals. The risk is too much,” he said.

“The organisation has supplied us ample material about how they’ve made the decision. If we as councillors decide to go with another tenderer, it exposes us to significant risk, and ratepayers, residents and other tenderers who miss out.”

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